Posts Tagged ‘strip patterns’

May I Have A Pattern for this Quilt, Please?

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

Window Onto Bougainville Street

Window Onto Bougainville Street,  1992,   132cm x 102cm

Last week I had an email from a quilter, Jan in Australia, who apparently loves this quilt she saw in magazine article, and asked if there’s a pattern available.  I am always happy to help others who want to try working how I do – which is essentially what a request for a pattern is about, even though all my ‘patterns’ are essentially make-it-up-as-you-go-along.  Seriously.  But I replied, and this post is based on what I sent back to her.

I told her I didn’t mean to sound difficult when I said there is and there isn’t a pattern to this quilt.   When I made it, 20+ years ago, I used this kind of design several times, working from a pencil diagram on a blank page, which is pretty much all the pattern I need and use.   I added a few notes or lists of colours or ideas for further exploration, then started cutting.   To me a line is a seam, and if I see some wonderful lines and shapes I can adapt for a patchwork pattern, I draw a simple diagram.   So looking at that quilt, you can see it’s just a divided square, and then each segment has a strip added on one side before putting all the segments together.  Other quilts made with this method include several in my  “Colour Memories”  gallery .  For this one, it was the first of a series I designed this way, and I think I cut a square from cardboard and marked dots along the edge so every square would have exactly the same angles – these days I’d do it totally freehand, and it would look different but the same – certainly much more ‘modern’ and ‘arty’  – and now that I think of it, after 20 years,  I might just use this idea again in a different way.  Keep an eye on this blog!

Using a blank worksheet from my ‘Hot Quilts From Cold Scraps” workshop handouts, I diagrammed out the following directions:

window onto bougainville street blog

To make this quilt from this block design, you’d start with a fabric piece larger than you want to finish up with  (I think “Window Onto Bougainville Street” squares are 9″ maybe 10″)  and then when all the piecing’s done, trim each block to size.  Yes, of course there’ll be some bits left over – scraps – and I suggest several ways to use these, too, in the workshop – so it isn’t wasteful at all.  I always keep useful sized scraps and segments of trimmed off bits, and use them in new works.  The strips were cut 1″ with a ruler, on the grain, and using 1/4″ seam allowance that shows 1/2″ on the front when done. If you cut them a bit narrower, showing on the front will be narrower.  Work out how many squares of which size you want.  I’d suggest at least one fabric common to every square to unify them.  You could add sashings and borders if you like – its up to you!

In my “Hot Quilts From Cold Scraps” workshop people either use a traditional pattern of their own choice, or learn how easy it is to come up with a pattern of their own to use as we explore the factors that make for successful true scrap quilts.   Then they either choose to cut the fabrics using a ruler or templates or pattern pieces (ie work traditionally)  or they can choose to cut freehand, which is known as “improvisational piecing” either way’s fine with me.  If you’d like to try improvisational piecing, which I call freehand piecing, I found this great little tutorial of the absolute basics –  and am always  here to help if you have any difficulty(send me a pic and description of the problem) but I’m predicting you won’t have any.

Certainly everyone in the Hot Quilts workshop is most likely working on something different as we all explore the principles of designing successful scrap quilts.  I myself always piece freehand these days, ever since learning how just after I made this quilt – eg check out my website gallery “Ebb & Flow”    After the segments are pieced I often trim to a geometric shape using a ruler, as I love the grid layout thing.

The Glorious Straight Stitch 4

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

hand quilting new ideas 1 blog

Of course, the straight stitch in running mode through layers = quilting stitch.

Detail of a new piece with the working title of “Mostly About Red”.  Green is my favourite colour though, and the next one is ‘mostly’ about greens despite the large amount of black background  :-p     The quilting thread is  a flourescent topstitching thread in one of the intense flourescent colours now available along with fabric and paint here in Uruguay.   Such things are probably nothing new in the USA, but here they are, relatively speaking – partly because the government has brought in laws requiring motorcyclists to  wear a floursecent vest for heightened visibility.  (They had to try something, as the accident rate is positively alarming)  Mostly people are wearing the proscribed vests, which are also now widely used by all kinds of workers  on or near roads and construction sites.  But I have seen these vests tied to back packs, and wrapped around an occy strap holding a load onto the back…. slightly visible from the back perhaps, but not from the front.  And now after several months in traffic the intense colour of some of them has been toned down by emission particles built up all over them – some need a good wash.  Perhaps floursecent helmets will be next ?


Having a Go

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

The monthly newsletter from the Contemporary Quilt Group, CQG, a subgroup of the West Australian Quilters’ Association WAQA, just arrived in my inbox.  I am a very remote member of both,  (still hoping to resume residence in Aus)- and these e-letters keep me abreast with what’s happening back there.  Recently  a group of The Modern Quilt Guild formed in Perth, and apparently at a recent CQG meeting someone suggested that the CQG should to ” have a go” at that style of quiltmaking, and quoting from the newsletter this was  “received entusiastically. Many members wish to try modern quilt techniques that include using traditional blocks, but in a contemporary way”  which they’ll be exploring at a future meeting.  Excuse me CQG girls – absolutely nothing has ever stopped any of you from experimenting with irregular piecing or using traditional  design characteristics including blocks in a ‘new’ way – and nothing has stopped you taking a fresh look at colour, using whatever fabrics you wish, modern or not – and nothing’s prevented you from personally focusing on the more functional bed covering role of what we all do.

What is happening is that this movement is attracting attention from many younger and some older people who have not previously been involved making quilts, and who would prefer generally to make quilts for practical purposes. These people are not phased by style and organisational customs or rules that have grown up around the whole craft of quilting over the past 2-3 decades.  The dreaded ‘quilt police’ have been sidelined, and the emphasis is on practicality plus fun, networking and pleasure in accomplishment.  The time taken to make a functional attractive bed quilt is being slashed as modern designs requiring less piecing and more plain non-patterned areas are favoured.

If you go through this link you’ll find a very fresh looking website, and scrolling down you find a description of the guild’s objectives and the characterisics of their aproach.  It’s  centred on using modern communications – you’ll find them on facebook and twitter etc – and there are lots of online tutorials.  Next year the first modern quilt guild festival/conference will be held, and it sounds remarkably like the giant Houston quilt festival; and in fact, the whole movement is starting to sound like a parallel world of The Quilting Industry as many of us now know it.  Books, tutorials and classes, dedicated magazines, particular styles of fabrics that are favoured in their popular designs… the list goes on.  Like many who have been quiltmaking for eons I applaud this fresh approach, and know that new exponents of the craft will (a) lower the average age of quiltmakers generally and (b) bring fresh ideas to the craft.  At the same time I’m a bit bemused at the breathless ‘we’re different!”  tone here,  even as I count myself as one of them.


Wagga-style Repairs; Everything Old Becomes New Again, Eventually

Monday, January 9th, 2012

About 20 years ago I made this red/black/white/grey colour schemed quilt for our son Ivan to take off to college.  It has a lot of use and quite a few washings since then, and was presented to me last week in serious need of repairs.  I decided wagga style patchings were the only sane way to deal with the little holes along seam ridges, and some surprising fabric failures producing patches just hanging by few threads.  In one patch the batting had gone … but it has all now been repaired, taking several brightly coloured fabrics and about 10 hours of cutting and machine patching over the holes.  And of course all that can be done again in the future in true wagga style!

The pattern used was given to me on a class handout nearly 25 years ago, in the days when of course no one acknowledged sources of patterns and designs they liked and thought they’d like to share… even if something was clearly in the open domain.  So I did once look it up in Ginny Beyer’s  Book of Blocks and Borders, and found it was a traditional pattern or variation of one, which included mosaic in the title (the book isn’t to handto check this as I write)

And by coincidence, just as I was starting on these repairs, I was searching for thread in a nearby quiltshop here in Easton, and noticed among the books this one featuring the exact same pattern on the cover:

These traditional blocks have enduring appeal – here even enhanced by the wording of the title of this booklet, which uses as the base material the 2 1/2″ strips you can now get pre-cut from beautiful batik fabrics, all you have to do for this pattern is sew them up in light/dark pairs and cut triangles, arrange them according to the instructions and sew together. It’s a beautiful pattern done with 1  1/2″too, much finer.  I used larger strips because of the large prints and stripes – it worked well.  I’ve often seen it,  and in certain classes I hand out the same sheet I was given years ago – its the perfect scrap quilt pattern.   In the hand out instructions one had to cut one’s own strips of course – but that was the time when the new rotary cutter and long rulers had recently revolutionised quiltmaking, apparently – I take that on faith because the cutter already reigned supreme when I began making quilts.

Nice to see an old pattern is enjoying popularity again… or still.

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